In this video, we will learn how to
identify the three common states of matter and describe and compare the properties
of solids, liquids, and gases.
Say we have a bottle of
perfume. There’s a simple experiment we can
do. First, we’ll take the lid off and
weigh the bottle of perfume. Next, we’ll leave the bottle of
perfume near an open window for 24 hours. When we come back and weigh the
perfume again, the mass will have decreased by quite a bit. Why did that happen? Well, everything is made of
invisibly small particles that are called molecules. Molecules are the smallest unit of
matter that can exist freely with well-defined physical and chemical properties. What’s going on here is that the
molecules are escaping the container during that 24-hour period. As the molecules that make up the
perfume leave the bottle, the mass decreases.
The perfume is a liquid, which is a
state that matter can exist in. There are two other common states
of matter: solid and gas. For examples of the three states,
let’s consider water. Solid water is called ice. We’re likely quite familiar with
liquid water. And then gaseous water is found in
the air and is called water vapor. Now ice, liquid water, and water
vapor all have something in common. All three are made of water
molecules. So if all three are made of water
molecules, why are these three states of water so different? The answer lies at the molecular
level. To compare the states of matter,
let’s refer to these diagrams, where each pink dot represents a molecule.
One difference between the states
of matter we can directly see from the diagram. We can see that each state has
different-sized spaces between the molecules. These spaces are called
intermolecular spaces. We can show these intermolecular
spaces exist with a simple experiment, where we mix water and ethyl alcohol. Say we have 100 cubic centimeters
each of water and ethyl alcohol. When we mix them together, we’d
expect that we’ll end up with 200 cubic centimeters of liquid total. But it turns out the volume of the
solution is less than 200 cubic centimeters we’d expect. This is because the alcohol
molecules occupy the empty space between the water molecules, or the intermolecular
spaces, when we mix the two substances together.
We can see from the diagrams that
these intermolecular spaces tend to be different from each state of matter. Solids are tightly packed, with the
smallest intermolecular spaces. In gases, the molecules are far
apart, and the intermolecular spaces are very large. Another difference between the
states of matter is the movement of molecules. Molecules are constantly in
motion. They can move around in space,
vibrate, and rotate. In solids, the molecules are so
tightly packed that they cannot really move in space; the molecules only
vibrate. This is why solids are so rigid
compared to liquids and gases. In a liquid, molecules can slide
past each other, which is why liquids are pourable. In a gas, molecules tend to move
more freely than the molecules of a liquid or solid substance, and the molecules are
Now, why do we see these trends in
molecular spaces and motion for the states of matter? Well, it all has to do with the
forces of attraction between molecules. Forces of attraction are called
intermolecular forces. Solids are held together so tightly
because the intermolecular forces between solid particles are very strong. Liquids have intermolecular forces
that are much weaker than solids. And gases have the weakest forces
of attraction between particles. This should make sense to us. After all, it’s much easier to
cleanly divide a liquid in half than it is to divide a solid. This is because the strong
intermolecular forces in the solid keep the particles together.
Now the differences in
intermolecular forces means that solids, liquids, and gases have different
properties. The properties we’ll discuss are
the shape and volume of the different states. Solids have a definite volume and a
definite shape. This means that if you put a solid
in a different container, the volume and shape stay the same. Liquids have a definite volume but
no definite shape. This means if we put a liquid in a
different container, the volume will stay the same but the liquid will take the
shape of the bottom of the container. Finally, gases have no definite
shape or volume. So a gas will completely fill a
container, no matter the size.
Now that we’ve talked about solids,
liquids, and gases in detail, let’s work through some practice problems.
What is the correct order, from
strongest to weakest, for the attractive forces in solids, liquids, and gases? (A) Gases, solids, liquids. (B) Solids, liquids, gases. (C) Solids, gases, liquids. (D) Gases, liquids, solids. (E) Liquids, solids, gases.
Solid, liquid, and gas are the
three common states that matter can be in. We’ve been asked about the
attractive forces in these three states. These attractive forces are called
intermolecular forces. Intermolecular forces are the
forces of attraction between particles. If intermolecular forces between
particles are strong, the particles are held together tightly, and they can’t move
as well. If attractive forces are weak,
particles aren’t held together tightly and they drift further apart.
Let’s compare these diagrams of the
solid, liquid, and gas states to see if we can determine which one has the stronger
intermolecular forces. In a solid, the particles are
tightly packed, but in a gas the particles are able to drift away from each
other. So, we would expect solids to have
stronger intermolecular forces than liquids and gases do.
This question asked us to order the
attractive forces in solids, liquids, and gases from strongest to weakest. Solids have the stronger
intermolecular forces, and gases have the weakest. So answer choice (B), solids,
liquids, and gases, is the correct answer.
The diagram below shows three
different arrangements of particles. Which arrangement would you expect
a solid to have?
Solid is one of the three common
states of matter, the others being liquid and gas. In all states of matter, particles
are in constant motion. The possible motions of these
particles is translation, vibration, and rotation. The forces of attraction between
particles are different for the different states of matter. Solids have strong forces of
attraction between particles. The strong attraction between
particles pull the particles closer together, making solids more tightly packed than
liquids and gases. This means that particles in a
solid can’t move around very much in space; they really only vibrate in place.
The diagram that matches the
arrangement of particles we would expect a solid to have, given this discussion, is
diagram (A). In diagram (A), the particles are
tightly packed together like solid particles are. So we would expect the diagram that
shows a solid to be diagram (A).
A sample of pale-green gas is added
to the odd-shaped container shown below and then sealed. Which image shows how the gas will
occupy the container?
This question asked us about gases,
which are one of the three common states of matter. The states of matter have different
properties. Two that are relevant for this
question are the shape and volume of the states of matter. Solids have a definite shape and a
definite volume. This means that they keep their
shape and size if we move the solid to another container. Liquids take the shape of any
container we put them in, so they have no definite shape. But the volume of the liquid will
stay the same. Gases, on the other hand, have no
definite shape or volume. Gases will completely fill any
container that they occupy because of this, no matter the shape or size of the
We’ve been asked to choose the
image that shows what will happen when the pale-green gas occupies the odd-shaped
container. We know the gas will completely
occupy the container they’re in because they have no definite shape or volume. The answer choice that shows the
gas completely occupying the container is answer choice (D), which is the correct
answer to this question.
With that, we’ve reached the end of
the video. So let’s summarize what we learned
today. The three common states of matter
are solid, liquid, and gas. Solids have the strongest forces of
attraction between molecules, while gases have the weakest. Intermolecular spaces are the
spaces between molecules. Solids are tightly packed with
small intermolecular spaces. Liquids have larger intermolecular
spaces. Gases have larger still
intermolecular spaces, with molecules spread apart.